Javelin (surface-to-air missile)

For the American Javelin anti-tank missile, see FGM-148 Javelin.

British soldier posing with Javelin triple launcher(1996)
Type Manportable surface-to-air missile
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
Used by See Operators
Wars Soviet war in Afghanistan
Production history
Manufacturer Thales Air Defence
Weight 11.1 kilograms (24 lb) (Missile)
24.3 kilograms (54 lb) (System)
Length 1.39 metres (4 ft 7 in)
Diameter 76 millimetres (3 in)
Crew 1

Effective firing range 300 to 4,500 metres (980 to 14,760 ft) against jets to 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) against helicopters
Warhead High Explosive warhead
Warhead weight 2.74 kilograms (6.0 lb) (containing 0.6 kilograms (1.3 lb) of HE) with contact and proximity fuzes
Impact force or Proximity Fuze

Engine Solid Fuel Rocket
Speed Mach 1.7+ approx.
SACLOS system

Javelin is a British, man-portable surface-to-air missile, formerly used by the British Army and Canadian Army. It can be fired from the shoulder, or from a dedicated launcher known as Javelin LML—Lightweight Multiple Launcher. Capable of being vehicle mounted, the LML carries three rounds.

It was replaced in front line British service by the Javelin S-15, sold commercially as the Starburst surface-to-air missile in 1993 (radio frequency guided Javelin was retained for some time thereafter for training purposes), and later by the Starstreak starting around 1997. The Javelin GL was hastily purchased by the Canadian Forces to replace the existing Blowpipe surface-to-air missile system that failed last-minute tests during preparations for the deployment to the Gulf. It was later replaced by the Javelin S15 until retired without replacement in 2005.


The missile was developed as a replacement for the Blowpipe missile, which had proven largely ineffective in the Falklands War although it was used by both sides. Only two hits were recorded out of more than 100 launches: a British Harrier GR3 (XZ972) attacked by Argentine Army special forces (Commandos Company), and an Argentine Aermacchi MB-339 (0766 (4-A-114)) during the Battle of Goose Green.[1]

Operational use

Similar in overall appearance to the Manual Command Line of Sight (MCLOS), radio frequency guided Blowpipe, Javelin is slightly more compact, uses Semiautomatic Command Line of Sight (SACLOS) radio frequency guidance and is fitted with Semi and improved warhead. The operator is equipped with a 6× magnification sight and a long range T.V. camera to locate targets. Although the Javelin's accuracy is somewhat susceptible to smoke, fog, or clouds, it is claimed to be virtually impossible to decoy it away from a target with flares. It has been alleged that some were supplied to the Mujahideen by the United States during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.


Map with Javelin operators in blue

Current operators


  1. Freedman, Sir Lawrence, The Official History of the Falklands Campaign (Abingdon, 2005). Volume II, pp. 732–735
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